An illegal mining area in the Sekhukhune district of Limpopo was scattered with red and white signs written: “Bauba Mining Area No Entry No Unauthorised Persons”.
These signs were just the intersection point where a political heavyweight, JSE listed companies, mineral rights and a bitter drawn-out kingship battle for the Bapedi nation would meet. And as the well-worn idiom goes: when elephants fight, the grass suffers.
Two weeks ago the Mail and Guardian reported how illegal mining was destroying a desperately poor community who live on the R37 between Atok and Burgersfort in Limpopo.
Now it’s emerged that several companies and individuals have for years been hard at work lobbying the department of mineral resources (DMR) for permits to prospect and mine in Limpopo’s Sekhukhune district.
Through the JSE-listed company Bauba Platinum, of which he is a non executive director, Mathews Phosa owns numerous prospecting and mining rights on the Bapedi land.
Therein lies the rub: anyone seeking such a permit – even a king – has to first obtain the Bapedi tribal council’s stamp of approval.